From the Archives: Scoring in Los Angeles (1979)

By Victor Bockris

I like to get what I need in the place I’m visiting, because scoring adds another dimension to the trip. I presumed it would be easy in L.A., but the first thing “Clarissa” said when I arrived at the airport was, “I hope you brought some of that good New York coke.”

“No, as a matter of fact…” “Oh shit! It’s really expensive out here, and it’s usually been stepped on so much. Luckily I happen to have the best connection, but the cheapest is $125 a gram.” “Yeah. I’d like to get some grass too.”

“There’s a shortage. I haven’t seen any in weeks.” It took four days to find an ounce. During the search, I asked the dealers why. There are a lot of very rich people who use drugs, and the movie and record companies often write off “drug budgets” as part of their expenses. I heard things like: “They spent $200,000 for coke on such and such a movie,” and “So and so walked off the set of his latest because they wouldn’t include a coke budget.” Therefore the dealers who have good drugs have no reason to be interested in the buyer who wants one gram when they can be making big sales on a regular basis. If you were a drug dealer and you moved to Hollywood, you would gradually phase out your smaller customers, because you could be making more money dealing with fewer people in a safer situation.

“Michelle” told me: “Los Angeles is based upon prestige. Here prestige comes from money. Money is a language.” If California were a country on its own, it would be the eighth richest country in the world. Angelenos are naturally attracted to money. In the supermarket the cashier gives you a little card with your change. You scrape it with your fingernail and a number appears. If you hit the jackpot, you win $777.77. I never saw anybody win, but we stood around scraping those cards just as soon as we got them.

The third day I was there someone asked me to participate in a golden chain letter. “If you’ll invest $100 in cash right now, you are guaranteed to make $300,000 in six months.” She was a nice girl, and quite serious about it. I tried to point out the fallacy, but I couldn’t help liking her let’s-make-some-money attitude. After a week, I was saying “Let’s make a deal” regularly. In Los Angeles you are surrounded by so much luxury, whether you possess it or not becomes almost irrelevant. In Los Angeles, you are rich.

I stayed at the Tropicana Motor Hotel on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, ten minutes from Beverly Hills. The Hollywood-Beverly Hills area is where a majority of the most interesting Angelenos live and play. The Tropicana is located in the middle of it. It is run by a friendly young staff. The rooms are comfortable, cheap—my large suite cost $33 a night—and the other guests are not unpleasant to look at. Duke’s, its coffee shop, is a fabulous place to eat.

The “Trop” also has its legends, which lend a distilled elegance to its slightly faded facade. This is where Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey filmed Heat, with Joe Dallesandro and Sylvia Miles. Tom Waits lives in one of the cottages out back. Providing a scenario for traveling musicians, photographers, writers and hustlers, it is often referred to as the “Chelsea West.” In an unpretentious way, the Trop lives up to its promise. Its atmosphere will facilitate your necessary adjustment to the extremely pleasant rhythm of daily life in Los Angeles.

Which it is only natural to initially fight. By the fifth day I caught myself thinking: “Er… take it easy, Vic. Why not lie out by the pool for a few hours? I mean, this is California, man; you’re missing out on the experience cooped up in your room all day writing about why you hate people.” But I couldn’t see how to make the transition without losing the majority of my energy.

I needn’t have worried. The pace of L.A.’s perpetual spring climate makes life’s intricate days much simpler. After a while, gnawing concern about getting everything done evaporates, because everything, from going shopping and parking the car to getting your laundry done in an hour while talking on the telephone, is so easy.

There is little friction between people. Even the exchanges with shopkeepers, gas-station attendants and waiters are so charmingly handled that, just as one’s skin gradually changes from a pale sickly green to beige, one’s nerves straighten from a mangle of barbed wires to make a series of smooth connections. The soothing sunshine complements the pretty space. Undisturbed, the Los Angeles environment treats its organisms remarkably well. As Reyner Banham affirms in his superb book Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies: “Los Angeles remains one of the ecological wonders of the habitable world.”

Ecology is that science which studies the relationship between an organism and its environment: in order to understand this city, which, ironically, attracts so much scorn, I became an organism in the Los Angeles environment and spent a month learning the city’s language.

To mention one amusing result that anyone can understand right away, sex is notoriously better in L.A. I started to pick up on this the evening of the fifth day. A friend invited me to the Mater Dei High School football championship finals in Santa Ana. “Don” has a Lotus Europa, and after turning on and tuning up at a Taco Hut, I found myself gazing up at the electrographic architecture of uninterrupted neon from where I lay in the passenger racing seat as the car rocketed down the freeway in the balmy night and thinking, “California is exactly what you imagine it will be.”

We walked into the arena during the intermission. Here were three or four thousand well-fed, well-dressed, relatively smart and uniformly beautiful “perfect Aryan” teenagers excitedly sitting in this glaringly lit, oval stadium with nothing to do. The score was zero-zero.

I looked down onto the brilliant green field and saw six blond girls. They were wearing yellow knee socks, brown skirts and yellow sweaters and were running through their routine, bursting with sex. The combination of the swift drive in the Lotus, excellent grass acquired from a student and my first sight of live cheerleaders, sweat glistening on their supple flesh in the giant spotlights, got me so hot that within seconds of entering this magic arena of teenagers I was jumping up and down, clapping and pointing out the cutest to Don, ignoring the fact that I was making a spectacle of myself before these pediatricians, executives and detectives of the future. A few hundred of them turned their attention on me, and as the teams ran back onto the field I was dragged down into the stands and found myself surrounded by grinning kids.

Two minutes into the second half Mater Dei scored a touchdown: it was as if my unexpected, unexplainable and unrepeatable presence had been a signal from some messenger in a Cocteau scenario. Pandemonium ensued. They started to push me onto the field to jump with the cheerleaders, who were also focusing their attention on me, pointing and cracking up as they performed their frenzied victory dance. The energy being directed toward my image was phenomenal. I was actually about to make my way onto the field and grab the microphone from the deejay, who was trying to maintain contact with an audience he was clearly losing, when a stab of intuition held me back. Seconds later I sensed the hysteria was about to drown us in a tidal wave of rejection for being too strange. I was dressed in some variation of a New York punk outfit. “Let’s get the fuck outa here!” Don suddenly yelled. I saw fear in his eyes. We ran out of that arena fast, sprinting away into the night like the spirits we had somehow become for those magic 15 minutes.

Driving home, drenched in sweat and exhausted, we talked about it, although there was little to say except “What the fuck was that about?” It did seem magic at the time. What it was about more than anything else was the eternal delight of electric energy. This visit to Mater Dei gave me an enormous boost. And by the end of my first week in L.A., I found that I had begun swimming every day, friends were beginning to swarm by and I was eager to see more and more people. I was drying off in the sun one morning when the poolside phone rang and it was “Valerie” inviting me to drive out to Cal Arts, where “I am a film instructor,” that afternoon. She said she would pick me up at one.

During this very beautiful drive she explained that in the ’50s Walt Disney went to Europe and everyone asked him to speak, so he got the idea people thought of him as an intellectual. He concluded that he should endow an institute devoted to film making, so he put up the money for the Cal Arts Film School. His idea was that there should be ramps from which the public could watch the students learning. He wanted to create an environment in which the students and teachers could live in harmony. Herbert Marcuse was going to be the first president, but then he and Angela Davis were discovered swimming nude in the pool at midnight. (That could be a rumor.) The problem is Walt died before the place was perfected. They call Cal Arts “Disney’s Last Dream.”

After Valerie had rattled off this info, simultaneously driving and rolling a slim joint, she directed my attention, which had been darting between her and the breathtaking desert landscapes on the outskirts of L.A., to the driving conditions. Except on the freeways, everyone drives gracefully and slowly. “Los Angeles is the only city in the world where the architecture was created to be viewed at 15 miles an hour,” says David Hockney in British Vogue. The danger is that you get hypnotized by the montage of forever-lush brightly colored visuals, think you’re in a movie, and space out. But you have to concentrate, because the L.A. traffic cops are mean. In the late ’60s a new breed of California police officer—often Vietnam veterans—spread throughout California. Now, the highest rates of alcoholism, divorce and suicide exist in the L.A. police force, with its inbred sense of minority paranoia. Driving drunk or stoned, I was warned by everyone, will get you treated extremely harshly.

Freeway driving is a satisfying, physical experience. It creates an uplifting feeling of vastness and relaxation. Angelenos have the most advanced car culture in the world. Drivers on the freeways have worked out a system of communication with each other. You get between two cars that are speeding; if either car slows down, it has spotted a police car. As long as you’re in the middle you’ll always be warned in time. This convoy driving is done consciously, with drivers voluntarily taking the point positions. Some people apparently develop these intense intercar relationships, overtaking each other with frosty glares, leapfrogging back and forth around each other and generally using the machine to harass. Whenever I drove, I reflected on how sharp my vision was, how alive and “in” the present I felt. Again, the environment has provided a superior situation for its organisms.

I felt like I was in the future, walking down the wide, empty, shining corridors at Cal Arts with “Juliette,” who was conducting the guided tour. There were very few people around. She told me that no one ever goes to classes and nothing happens. I spent a couple of hours in the empty building full of expensive unused equipment.

FILM MAKING IS TOO DIFFICULT FOR ME reads a sign someone painted on the wall in the basement. Further down the hall there is a GOOD FUCK door, on which a list of names is drawn. After a while I asked Juliette where the people were; I had seen someone waft around a corner, but he seemed to be doing little more than wafting. “They’re over by the pool,” she said.

Most of the students over by the pool were naked. Someone was playing a flute in an upstairs room, and the music wandered over the idyllic scene, from which there was nothing lacking except a bar. Juliette said, “We don’t need a bar because we all take drugs.” On cue, a security guard ran by saying he had just repelled a raid by a group of ten year olds.

“I guess they wanted to see the cocks and tits,” someone said. But, “No,” the guard replied, catching his breath, “they’re after the marijuana.” The students grow their own.

Los Angeles is a misunderstood, unique city that deserves a much better reputation than it has. As an inhabitant of Manhattan, I am often accosted around the States with extremely negative remarks about the place I live in, and I find them to be exclusively based upon ignorance. As a recent champion of Los Angeles, I have found an equally high and caustic level of response to that place, also based on boring, useless ignorance. There is no sense in comparing Los Angeles to any other city in the world, because the factors that combined to create it are extremely unusual. In fact, nothing remotely like it could ever occur again.

An almost perfect climate, which reigns over a large area of extremely fertile earth, provided the initial inhabitants (1781) with a solid basis of wealth in land and field produce. Around the turn of this century, vast quantities of oil were discovered, and oil quickly became an important primary industry. When the first movie was made in 1910, Los Angeles was well on its way to becoming a wealthy town with a population of 800,000 who had come from the Midwest, Mexico and Europe. It was the end of a geographical frontier but the beginning of a mental one.

By 1930, Hollywood had attracted its unconventional and truly unrepeatable population of genius, neurosis, skill, charlatanry, beauty, vice, talent and eccentricity. While other cities have had to invest centuries in accumulating their cultured and leisure classes, Los Angeles has witnessed the greatest concentration of imaginative produce in the history of man in less than a hundred years. No city has ever been produced by such a perfect mixture of space, wealth, talent and natural resources.

Los Angeles has continued to develop and so remains our most modern city in many vital ways. If there are American traditions, there is no better place to inspect them than in Los Angeles, where to speak in superlatives, believe what isn’t true, dress dramatically and tackle the impossible are habits. Unlike other cities, where people are squashed together in a labyrinth of cultural monuments that control their growth, Los Angeles has room to make changes that the conventional metropolis cannot contemplate. This sense of possibilities ahead is a vital part of the basic lifestyle of L.A., where people want to live in the present. One provocative current idea envisions L.A. as a model for our first space platforms.

After graduating from Mater Dei and Cal Arts, I called Professor Timothy Leary. He is an outspoken champion of Los Angeles, and I wanted to hear what he had to say about it. I also wanted to alert him to the fact that William Burroughs was flying out and would be staying at the Tropicana for a week.

Leary, 62, who currently lives in a West Hollywood studio apartment from which he issues books and stories out on lecture tours, was initially hard to reach because he is always rushing off somewhere. Our phone calls continually missed each other’s until, one night, walking into a petite, tasteful restaurant called Oscar’s Wine Bar, I bumped into him sitting with High Times writer Michael Hollingshead and three young women. Exclaiming, ‘Aha! We meet at last!” Leary leapt up. I grabbed his tennis racket. But, as if that were the gist of it, I found him initially difficult to interface with. His sense of himself as a public figure seemed defensive.

A few days later I met him under more relaxed circumstances in the apartment of a mutual friend over after-dinner drinks and was able to get a better picture: he’s energetic and enthusiastic about whatever he is discussing. Tim doesn’t really talk, he sings.

His theory about Los Angeles is that it is in the process of becoming the next center of intelligence. He says the power has moved out of Washington, is moving west, and the intelligence is moving from New York to Los Angeles. “Swarming,” he emphasised, “is the key concept.”

By the time William Burroughs and his secretary, James Grauerholz, moved into the Tropicana, I had all but become an Angeleno myself. Apart from living and working in Hollywood, I was in love with Venice (the boardwalk on Sunday), Malibu (where the sea is your backyard) and Griffith Park (a monument to the genius of D.W. Griffith). I was in love with the city, and a few of its inhabitants, and had completely adjusted to the environment’s rhythm while gaining, rather than losing, energy. There is no question at all that a large part of being happy in Los Angeles has to do with the connection between your body and the atmosphere: one is simply healthier in L.A. on a daily basis than one could possibly be in a similarly large metropolis. It is a complete myth that the inhabitants laze around the pool all day in a stupor of relaxation. I found all kinds of creative people and enormous amounts of energy in Los Angeles. They work very hard out there, because there’s so much money. Don’t forget, this is where some of the greatest works of art of the twentieth century were made.

I gave a party to welcome William to L.A. Leary was at the top of my guest list. I also invited Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy. Ken Tynan moved to L.A. quite recently and seems to have assumed a social responsibility for the British intellectual community out there. He’d given a party for Princess Margaret the previous week and mixed Hockney and Isherwood with the likes of Paul Newman, Ryan O’Neal and Swifty Lazar. Tynan came with his wonderful wife Kathleen. David Blue, whom I’d continually met at Dantana’s (a good late-night hangout), came, along with Paul Getty, Ron Kovic, Randall Kaiser, Hiram Keller, Paul Jabara, Ulli Lommel, Frank and Laura Cavestani, Paul Krassner, Jack (Jimmy Olson) Larson, Jim Bridges, John Rechy, Julian Burroughs (who thinks he’s William Burroughs’s son)…

I threw the party in New York-cheapo style, and I think that’s why it was successful; in L.A. they do tend to give fairly lavish entertainments, and this was refreshing; also, because the people all came from different fields there was no power imbalance and everybody could just enjoy talking to each other. All I’d been able to do was buy a gallon of vodka, six bottles of wine and mixers. I rolled up 20 joints. “God, I’m having such a wonderful time. L.A. is incredible!” I said. “I know,” said a guest. “Don’t tell anyone. We’re trying to keep it quiet.” The party spilled out of the suite onto the terrace and around the pool. Marcia’s accompanying pictures tell the story.

The following morning, William, James, Paul Getty and I drove in a convoy of three cars out to Isherwood’s house by the sea in Santa Monica, where he lives with artist Don Bachardy, who wanted to draw William’s portrait. Isherwood has lived in Los Angeles since he left England in 1939. He presents a good example of an older person whose career has been stimulated by the L.A. environment. His relationship with the city has been extremely productive. At 73, he is agile, alert, working on three books.

Noticing that time was slipping by and our appointment at the Getty Museum was drawing precariously close, I went into Bachardy’s studio to warn him we’d have to leave soon, but he was working so intently I couldn’t speak; so I gave William a note: “Christopher is psychic. We have to go in ten minutes.”

Ten minutes later, we dashed along the majestic Pacific Coast Highway to the majestic Getty Museum, which you may only visit by appointment because they have adequate underground parking space for just 100 cars. We were very lucky to be escorted through the collection by young Paul.

That evening, we decided to dine at Lucy’s El Adobe Cafe, an excellent Mexican restaurant on Melrose. We had called ahead for a reservation, but when we arrived, “No reservaçion, Señor.” Slipping past the maître d’ one by one, we commandeered an empty table for six. It is hard to move six hungry people. The waiters looked worried but hastily served us, and we gave little thought to whose table we had stolen.

After the meal we got stuck running into a bunch of guys in the congested corridor that leads to the exit. Shuffling along, I found myself face to face with Jerry Brown. He looked a little tired and spaced out, as if he were waiting for a bodyguard to tell him what to do, his jacket slung over his shoulder.

Metaphorically, I see Los Angeles as a series of opening doors. Inside each room people come and go dispensing information. You walk in and meet someone, and then someone else comes in and you are introduced. Days later, in a different configuration in another room, the same people appear escorting new people. Many impromptu meetings of this nature occurred, as if on cue. It was quite extraordinary how many people I met by chance in such a short time.

“Excuse me, Mr. Brown,” I said, touching his arm, “I’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to William Burroughs.”

Brown stuck out a hand and said, “Not the William Burroughs, the novelist, author of Naked Lunch?”

“The very same,” replied Bill. Brown studied Burroughs intently. William seemed shy at first. Then he said, “Well, we came out here to fight Proposition 6 [the California antigay bill].” Brown replied, “You’ll win. The establishment is against it. Have you been in touch with Henry Miller recently?” “No, I haven’t seen him in years.”

Brown looked embarrassed. “I somehow always associate you with him,” he said. Then, pointing to the table we had just vacated, he said that he’d been waiting for them to get this table ready and graciously invited us to dine with him. We declined, hurried to our cars laughing and drove off to look at some dildos in the Pleasure Chest, a great sex shop down the block from the Tropicana.

Considering I was there for a month, had a fabulous time meeting people every day and can only remember one really bad night with dumb people, there must be some truth in Leary’s theory about intelligence swarming toward L.A. Most of the people I met there were super bright and active. I did go to one cult religious service “just for the experience,” but they were geeks. When somebody does freak out in L.A., they tend to go the whole way, but I don’t suppose religious cults can do you any harm if you have absolutely nothing to do with them. Anyway, the majority of negative things you could dig up on L.A. would tend to involve the residents. Los Angeles is a charming place to visit. In my opinion, you couldn’t put a foot wrong taking a vacation there. But charm is a power that is hard to pinpoint, I was thinking as I stood on the veranda outside my room the evening before I flew back to New York. I gazed past the palm trees and the humming birds hovering in the orange light of the setting sun, down at the pool and the now-empty chairs and tables set aside for sunbathers. I noticed for the first time how cream the stucco coloring of the two-story L-shaped motel building is. I was thinking about my gold Chevrolet Caprice parked in the back and how Los Angeles had changed my mind and body during the month I’d spent there, when a spectral form glided up, a vodka and tonic (no ice) in its right hand. My eyes traveled to the spectacles of William Burroughs as he looked out over the city and said, “I will tell you about it. The sky is thin as paper. The whole place could go up in ten minutes. That’s the charm of Los Angeles.”

Read the full issue here.

The post From the Archives: Scoring in Los Angeles (1979) appeared first on High Times.

All in the Archive

Few brands can say they breed, grow, process, package, and sell everything in-house—let alone with their own award-winning genetics and a team of people that could all fit in a studio apartment. Built on a history of 20 years of collecting, preserving, and developing unique cannabis genetics, Archive has gone from an idea to a company that’s grown to encompass every aspect of originator Fletcher Watson’s passion for cannabis. This vertically integrated company was the first seed vendor in the U.S. to have a retail location where you could visit and purchase clones or seeds. Since opening the Portland, Oregon store in 2016, the operation, which now has three distinct working parts, has become a seemingly impossible perpetual motion wheel, continually finding new tricks from well-known favorites, creating new varieties you’ll only find at the shop, and keeping old strains for safekeeping.

There’s a lot of documentation on the history of Watson’s mission to preserve cannabis genetics or his work to promote cultivation techniques during the online forum days when he went by “ThaDocta.” You’ll find more than a few articles on his work with Dosidos, RudeBoi OG, Moonbow, Rainbow Belts, and other strains that hold places on Archive’s wall of fame.

High Times Magazine, August 2023

But this company has done so much more than just cultivate killers. Despite falling prices, competition from well-funded corporate interests, and increased oversaturation, Archive continues to increase its market share and reputation. This story is one of pioneering the sweat equity, vertical integration model. Building off of this history, and crafting careful partnerships, empowered Archive to grow and expand in ways the team could never have seen coming.

What Has Three Legs & Award-Winning Genetics?

The Archive name comes from founder and primary partner Watson’s well-known mission to create a repository for the wealth of genetic diversity in cannabis. The goal of the company, when it started over a decade ago, was to hold on to all these incredibly diverse types of cannabis that were running through the scene, being grown for a couple of years, then fading into the background as the market continued the hunt for that new-new. 

Watson’s lifelong dedication to cultivation and community stretches far beyond 2012 when he released the first packs of seeds under the Archive moniker. (Fun fact: those first packs were a strain called #32 that Watson created from crossing Albert Walker and Manic.) Cultivars are sitting in their rotation right now that may never go into retail but have been safely stored since 2003, kept alive so that we don’t lose any history.

Secret Lemons / Photo by Erik Christiansen, @erik.nugshots

The Archive triangle—also part of the brand’s iconography—is comprised of A.) the seed business, B.) the cultivation/processing facility, and C.) the nursery/retail store.

As Archive Seed Bank, Watson operates his mad scientist lair, maintaining a rich genetic library that’s the equivalent of Batman’s trophy vault—breeding and hunting for new strains while storehousing countless old-school Pacific Northwest cultivars that might otherwise be forgotten (remember a strain called Corn?).

Having cut his teeth in Seattle when his parents moved him out from Virginia at 15, Watson developed a deep-seated passion for cataloging and preserving all the genetic diversity in cannabis. He compares it to how colonial Americans cultivated thousands of varieties of apples before industrialized agriculture began selectively breeding and harvesting them for things like color, ease of transport, and weight, bringing us down to a mere 100 types commercially produced today. This drive to capitalize on supply caused us to lose out on so many astounding varieties of fruits and vegetables that have passed into the pantheon of forgotten produce. Watson sees it as Archive’s job to make sure as many cannabis varieties as possible don’t end up lost to time or ravaged by market trends.

Where Strains Are Born

Adam Bush runs Archive’s cultivation and processing arm at the Oregon facility. Bush grew up with Fletcher in Virginia and moved to Oregon to learn how to blow glass in the early ’00s. After growing in California’s Mendocino County, he returned to Oregon to begin cultivation while helping his childhood friend with the many cannabis competitions Archive was attending. He and the team test new strains to see how well they’d produce for a retail market and supply all the flower and hash for their retail store.

Moonbow Rosin / Photo by Erik Christiansen, @erik.nugshots

When the time came to create a home base for Archive, the state of Washington (where Watson resides) wouldn’t allow for a fully integrated company, however Oregon, where Bush lives, was more than happy to let them create a place where they could take all the things Archive had accomplished thus far and provide a headquarters.

Watson and Bush knew they wanted to elevate the brand from being popular with just breeders, growers, and weed nerds and make them accessible to people who weren’t part of the forum crowd. They found a warehouse and storefront space suitable for their needs and called in the final member of the triad to help build Archive’s new home in the City of Roses.

Visit the Shop, Smoke the Weed

Archive Portland, where the dispensary and nursery are located, is run by partner Mac Laws. It’s the hub where fans of the brand can come experience everything they’ve seen online. The relationship between cultivation and retail has provided crucial consumer feedback that’s helped shape the course of their special store-only drops.

Laws and Watson met in Washington state, where they bonded over a shared love of genetic preservation. Laws was a reputable cultivator who believed in the brand enough to come down to Oregon and head up the nursery program and retail operations.

Moonbeam Hash / Photo by Erik Christiansen, @erik.nugshots

“I didn’t know anything about running a dispensary before this,” Laws admits, “but we knew that Fletch had created this really special thing, and it needed to have a place to take root. With my experience in cannabis, I felt more than comfortable running a nursery. The rest almost came naturally from just loving the brand so much.”

Laws’s positive effect on the organization has even allowed Archive to expand its efforts with plans to open an event space in late 2023, something none of the three partners envisioned when they broke ground together.

With Archive Portland, the trio has discovered an opportunity to establish branding, which they’ve done through merch and artist partnerships with heavy hitters such as Trevy Metal and Lot Comedy. The store has evolved from Archive’s home base to one of Portland’s destinations for cannabis tourists and locals looking to experience the most exclusive flavors in the state’s retail market. Being one of the most widely recognized brands both in and outside of Oregon, many people make the trek just to stop in and pick up clones, try out their favorite strain as rosin, or hunt down seed packs that might be unavailable online.

Cultivating Brand Identity

Archive’s genetics have dominated cannabis competitions for years, but they looked towards external optics to expand brand recognition to the broader world.

As Bush explains, “the extra cost [of branding] is part of why we’ve been able to make the name such a thing here in Oregon. Nobody else was investing in custom packaging and identifiable products when we started, but we knew that part of creating Archive’s home was flushing out that recognizable brand for regular consumers who might not know us from the competitions.”

Bush understands the visual aspects of a brand represent a company just as much as the weed it’s putting out.

Rainbow Belts / Photo by Erik Christiansen, @erik.nugshots

“I love growing, but it can really be Groundhog Day sometimes—you know, rinse, wash, repeat,” Bush says. “We know our product can hold its own. That gave us the freedom to look at how we cultivate the brand identity. I have an art background, so coming up with packaging design ideas and going over them with Fletcher and Mac is where I have some of the most fun.”

The close bond between Watson, Bush, and Laws shows how far a good team will take you. With all three members operating their pods, running small groups, and coordinating their efforts, they’ve spit-shined and oiled the operation. That way, Archive can accomplish something that usually takes a much larger workforce.

Few can claim to be a completely self-funded operation these days, and fewer still can say they created most of what they offer. Except for partnering with Smokiez to launch their edible line, the business is a closed-loop system, able to create, grow, and sell everything in-house. Archive has built its reputation on the strength of its genetics and upholds that high standing by directly offering its flowers and hash to the people. At a time when the industry is searching for solid footing, Archive stands tall on a trinity of strength, a position that few cannabis producers in the country can lean on.

This article was originally published in the August 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

The post All in the Archive appeared first on High Times.

Giving Out Flowers

N.O.R.E. went to school to be a human resources manager. He never imagined he’d be the co-host of one of the biggest hip-hop podcasts in the world, let alone an accomplished rapper. But in 2016, he and DJ EFN (short for his real name, Eric Fernando Narciandi) turned what was a passion project into a legitimate platform—Drink Champs. Seven years later, they’ve fielded hundreds of guests, some more controversial than others, and thrown back way too many shots to count, but they’re thriving.

“My vision in life was to be a rap star,” N.O.R.E. tells High Times. “That was my goal. But now that we’re being honest, my first goal was to be the biggest drug dealer in the world, and I realized I wasn’t going to achieve that. Pablo Escobar did that already. Then I wanted to be the biggest rapper in the world. But then I realized rap is probably one of the most dangerous jobs in life. We interviewed Bert Kreischer yesterday, and it’s probably one of our favorite podcasts ever.

“It’s all about identifying with human beings. I really feel like I’m a therapist at this point. I really feel like I can break a person down. I can make you cry if I want to. I can make you spill the beans if I want to. I can make you talk about everything if I want to.”

High Times Magazine, August 2023

And Drink Champs has accomplished that. Over the course of 363 episodes (and counting), N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN have watched DMX get emotional just months before his death, Kanye West go off the rails about the police killing of George Floyd (the episode had to be pulled after Floyd’s family threatened legal action) and Murder Inc. Records co-founder Irv Gotti make some wild claims about his romantic relationship with Ashanti. It’s all par for the course in rap journalism these days—the more outrageous, the better. But that’s not necessarily Drink Champs’s motive. As N.O.R.E. mentioned, the show is very much like a session with a therapist; feet up, inhibitions removed and more fact than fiction. Add alcohol to the equation, though, and there’s no telling where it can go. Luckily, N.O.R.E.—whose loud, gregarious personality can often trump anyone in the room—has DJ EFN to act as the anchor for the show.

“If you ask people that have known me over the years, they would actually say I be pretty wild, I’m a loud Cuban guy from Miami,” DJ EFN says. “I would drink and get tipsy and talk even louder. But when it comes to me and N.O.R.E., I don’t try to outdo somebody to prove something to the person next to me. I’ve always hated conference calls for that reason. So naturally, I’m gonna take a step back. I’m not gonna try to out character N.O.R.E. I’m used to being behind the scenes and that’s always been my role. I never really wanted to be in the forefront. I’m in the DJ role, N.O.R.E is gonna be the MC who’s in the forefront.”

It took some convincing on DJ EFN’s part to get N.O.R.E. to agree to do a podcast. In fact, N.O.R.E. was initially resistant to the idea because he thought podcasts were for “nerds.” Then veteran hip-hop producer Alchemist inadvertently changed his perspective.

Photo by Adrian Enningham @drainflix.

“I didn’t like the name podcast,” N.O.R.E. admits. “I just thought the word ‘podcast’ was corny. I thought they were for nerds, but I didn’t realize I was a nerd, too. Alchemist did something for me. I was stuck in hip-hop purgatory, which is like being stuck between heaven and hell. You’re not exactly broke, but you’re not exactly rich, so you’re just stagnated. I was at Alchemist’s studio. He was like, ‘Do you know who you are?’ And I was like, ‘No.’”

N.O.R.E. was about to find out. That night, Alchemist ended up taking him to a Kid Cudi show in West Hollywood.

“It was nothing but nerds in there,” he says with a chuckle. “They were all nerds, these millennial kids.”

Kid Cudi asked N.O.R.E. to perform a couple of songs, so he wound up rapping two of his classic singles for the unsuspecting crowd, 1998’s “Superthug” and 2002’s “Nothin’.” Then it dawned on him—he was a nerd, too.

“I go into the crowd and there’s nothing but a whole generation of Pharrell kids,” he remembers. “They came up to me and they’re like, ‘Yo! You’re the God.’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ Pharrell birthed a whole generation of kids who are not tough. They’re sensitive people, and I have something to do with that. For that simple fact, that makes me the biggest nerd in the building, so I realized I was a nerd at that very moment and I embraced it. I went and bought the glasses and everything [laughs]. I’m a full-fledged nerd.”

With that, Drink Champs became a reality. But there were many moments where they nearly threw in the towel. At that time, they weren’t making any money. N.O.R.E had just relocated to Miami and there was “no way” his accountant was going to let him go back to New York City after the amount of money he’d just spent on his new penthouse. He had no choice but to make it work.

Drink Champs chops it up with DMX. Photo by Adrian Enningham @drainflix.

“We was $80,000 in the hole between us both,” N.O.R.E. says. “Six to eight months into making Drink Champs, we never made nothing. We didn’t want to take the $500 ads or the $200 ads and we didn’t want to take the $15 ads. We knew what we was worth, so we sat around and waited eight months before we actually took an ad.

“We just didn’t want the normal people to invest in us. If you’re going to invest in us, we wanted the highest quality. So we used our own money. There were at least three times we called each other like, ‘Are we sure we want to keep doing this?’ It was definitely scary at first.”

The risk paid off. In January 2023, Drink Champs signed an audio exclusive licensing deal with Warner Music Group’s podcast network, Interval Presents. Under the new agreement, Interval Presents gained the exclusive licensing rights to the audio version of the podcast on all major podcast platforms. The best part about the deal is N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN get to continue doing what they’re already doing: providing an entertaining platform for important conversations with their flurry of high profile guests, while banking on their innate chemistry to keep people coming back week after week.

“I think people see themselves in us,” DJ EFN says. “I think that’s why we inspired a lot of people to start their own podcasts. I don’t want the legacy of Drink Champs to inspire people to get drunk, but I think it’s cool we’ve inspired people to give podcasting a shot. People always tell me they feel like they’re drinking with their friends or their uncles or their crew. We’re not journalists having this real serious Q&A with a guest. It’s just crazy, off-the-cuff talking, but you’re still going to get some stuff you’ve been wanting to know about these artists’ careers and backstories about the culture.”

N.O.R.E. adds, “Giving out flowers is the most rewarding part for me. I’ve had a successful career. I have platinum and gold records. Me giving flowers to a person who has probably never had one gold record or never even toured the world always makes me a better person. It takes nothing away from me as a grown ass man who’s done phenomenal things to give somebody their flowers.”

Drink Champs smokes out the studio with Wiz Khalifa. Photo by Adrian Enningham @drainflix.

DJ EFN knows their “livers can’t sustain this forever,” but N.O.R.E.—who’s been smoking a blunt full of moon rocks during the entire interview and admits to having a half ounce to three ounce a day weed habit—has a method to his madness.

“It’s a lot,” N.O.R.E. says of the drinking. “That’s why I only drink what my body’s used to. Usually, I get up and run two to three miles then put on a suit, sit in the sauna and sweat it all out. I drink a gallon of water a day. I do all the precautions.”

But one thing N.O.R.E. isn’t going to do is let society dictate what “living your best life” means for him. He explains, “There’s so many people who live life and don’t actually live life. And I’m not saying alcohol is the way to live life, and I’m not saying even cannabis is the way to live life, but you have to choose your version of having fun. You have to have fun. There’s so many people out here that’s living a boring, corny, stupid, miserable, dumb life because they’re living the standard life of what America says. Go live your fucking life.”

This article was originally published in the August 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

The post Giving Out Flowers appeared first on High Times.

From the Archives: Arteries and Conduits (1985)

They left T’s Jaguar on Third Avenue in a nice neighborhood so it’d be there when they returned, and took a battered VW bug down to the street. It was Friday, a busy time, and twilight was filling out rich and blue. A mild temperature and lack of precipitation gave the night a crispness Alvira found comforting. Almost felt like nothing could go wrong under such ideal conditions. But he knew the feeling to be without substance. A misleading calm prevailed as they descended on Alphabet City. The biggest smack emporium on the East Coast stretched before them as they drove through narrow bombed-out streets. Blacks, Latins, blancos, shadows in somber colors; lips tight and drawn down, eyes dead but active with the scuffle. Waiting, watching, copping, splitting. Lots of verbs on the street.

“Alvira, you’ve heard of the Sun Belt, the Snow Belt. This here is the Dope Belt. We’re going to cross above the main action, then ride Avenue D into the thick of it,” T said, hands gripping the wheel. “We’ll be pretty safe inside, but keep the windows up just in case.” Anyone gets in front of this car in a mean way is gonna have tire tracks across his forehead.”

They passed rows of abandoned buildings thick with clusters of crew workers and customers. Hostile cautious eyes observed their every move. Blancos could only be doing one of three things here. Copping, getting mugged, or making arrests.

“I’m not worrying, T,” Alvira said with lazy unconcern. He had complete confidence in T’s ability to negotiate junk turf. Tommy’s instincts on the street consisted of a finely tuned receiver system refined by years of practice. In the old days almost all his scoring buddies had been mugged a few times on these very streets. Some slid around easy, befriending a crew worker, staying cool, avoiding the cops and muggers. But some had been cut, beaten, robbed, even killed, over a few bags of dope. There were gangs that specialized in ripping off whites who came into the neighborhood for drugs, and that was the only reason they came, so it was safe for a thief to assume that any blanco who looked even vaguely like a junkie would either have money or bags in his possession.

That was only part of what was uncool about junk turf. The shooting galleries and scoring spots were in dingy apartments in abandoned buildings, set up so that you usually had to walk a few dark, crawling flights. Often someone was waiting in a corridor or apartment ready to tax the next pair of legs coming down the stairs. Nothing personal. Give up your dope or your life. Usually you scored on one flight and took off on another. Then if you were lucky you made it to the street again and got your ass out of there. If unlucky you might end up stuck in an apartment with your money, watch, wallet, shoes, coat, maybe even pants gone. Not to mention your medicine.

Years ago someone had tried to take Alvira off in a building on East Third Street. Alvira took a deep cut over his left eye before the sleazoid got an ice pick between the ribs for his effort. Alvira thought of finishing him off but took pity on the junk-sick slumbum as he lay squirming in his own blood. So he just kicked him in the face a few times, broke the fingers on his knife hand, and walked out of the building with the mugger’s bags as well as his own. For years Alvira’d chastised himself for not wasting the sucker. A citizen has a duty to rid society of elements that prey on the innocent. Oh, well…

“Put that reefer out, Alvira!” T barked. “Our asses are on the line here. Aside from crooks and thieves we have to watch for the man. Rare they bother customers, but it happens. My parole officer would skin me for a pot pinch.”

“I hear you,” Alvira said, rolling down the window just enough to dump the reefer. “I left my smoke in the Jag, T. I’m clean now.”

“Cool. Now here we are, so watch what happens.”

T pulled up on the corner of Eighth Street and Avenue D. Immediately two boys in green shirts and blue jeans approached.

“Green Tape is on,” one of them said. “How many?”

T slid the window down two inches. “Get us six bags of Green Tape, frien’, but make sure the bags are stamped and sealed. I know a dummy when I see one.”

The boy’s eyes were pinned, reading them as he took the order and received the information that his customers were not new to the street and knew the score. He told them to wait a minute, then split into a basement ten feet away.

“They work this corner in crews, Alvira. The Green Tape boys wear green shirts or caps. The Black Mark boys wear black caps. Those are the two main ops. Others come and go. Dr. Nova also works here from time to time, but they’re harder to spot. You have to know a face or go to their social club on Rivington Street where they’re covered and more relaxed. Dr. Nova puts out a better bag, but Green Tape is easier to score.

“A year ago this corner belonged to LaTuna,” Alvira reflected. “When you were in the can I scored here a few times.”

“LaTuna is legendary lotus, Alvira. Best street bag in years. The crews that work this corner allow only bad competition. But LaTuna is around. Their headquarters is in Brooklyn, right over the Manhattan Bridge in a mostly Jamaican area. They’re covered over there, and nobody fucks with them. Over here they catch shit. Their main op now is to move into an abandoned building, set up their steerers on the street, and do business up towards the roof for a few days before moving on. Their steady customers seem to find them. They leave a touter at the old spot to hip regulars to the new spot.”

Alvira knew the wrinkle. You scan for a familiar face, and the face leads you home.

“Here comes our Green boy,” Tommy said.

The runner bopped up to the driver’s side, his right hand in a tight fist.

T let three crisp twenties slip through the vent window, but only after examining the stamp and seal on each bag. “Thanks, B,” he said. “If we like these we’ll be back.”

“Aks f’René,” the slumbum said. “I always be here. ‘Member the name. René treat j’ri’, poppa. These otha guys be passiri dummies ebery chance dey get. I gib j’goooood shit.”

“I hear you, René.”

“Take care, poppa. Enjoy j’medicine.”

T slid René an extra five and closed the window. The VW pulled away from the hottest curb in lower Manhattan and took D straight down to East Houston.

“Now, Alvira, we’re gonna give these bags to Joey Giggles for analysis. I wanna know what’s sellin’ out there, and being that we’re the ones with the most to lose, the market research falls on our asses.”

“Sounds cool.”

“Say, notice how René looked at us. Checked us both good. He is in the business of remembering faces. Pop up in three weeks and he’ll know you.”

They drove back to the Jag, stashed the bags, went back to junk turf. “Next stop’s an abandoned building on Third between B and C. This is LaTuna, for today at least. No telling where they’ll open tomorrow. I hear they’re putting out a very good bag these days, but it’s not really the original people, so you never know. There’re a multitude of tricks. Powdered barbiturates and Valium, injectable methadone. Just don’t know what you’re getting, even after you shoot it. Giggles will have to do a breakdown of the composition.”

They parked around the corner from their destination. This scene was considerably more dangerous because they had to get out of the car and walk into a deserted building. One of the LaTuna guards recognized T, and they got in with no trouble.

“That guy knows my face from the joint.”

Inside, a practiced crew kept traffic organized.

“LaTuna has the best communications system in Alphabet City,” T said as they labored up the narrow, unlit, crumbly staircase. “Guys on the rooftops watching the man. Long before heat arrives the bagman’s ditched his stash and may be whipping out a pack of cards or a Bible, or tryin’ to beat it out of the building. Very hard to catch’m with the bags. It happens sometimes, but…”

The building was an old abandoned red-brick jumping with shadows. Steerers organized the flow of junkies with precision. A theater of ghosts.

“I don’t like this, T. Wish I had my piece.”

T had insisted Alvira leave his .25 automatic in the car. Alvira had the rep of being less than discreet when it came to pulling iron. T kept his own .22 strapped flat to his tight belly. A loose beige unconstructed jacket hid the print of the piece under his shirt.

“Just get the cake fanned out and make the buy, Alvira. Don’t look hard at the bagman. Makes’m nervous. Act preoccupied with the bags he’s counting out.”

“Shouldn’t be too hard.”

They both engaged in a chilly laugh from another lifetime.

On the fourth floor another worker stood in the corridor, blocking the stairway. The thick young Latin eyed them suspiciously under a pulled-down navy watch cap, then pointed towards an apartment at the end of a dark passageway. The hall was lined with blanco customers standing one behind the other, pressed against the wall. Occasionally a few went into the apartment, and the line moved up. Then a few came out, obviously having scored, and more entered. Everything seemed rehearsed and perfected. Aside from the bagman inside the apartment, there was a worker at the door regulating traffic, and another walking the length of the line over and over, checking faces, saying, “Hab j ‘money ready. Fan it out face up. Hey, shuddup on line, I gotta hea’ w’z goiri down. Dinero fanned o’ j loose j’turn! Cop’n split! Don’ run!”

Alvira fanned out tens like a poker hand. When it was their turn the door worker tried to break them up. “We’re buyin’ together, B,” he told the man, slipping him a deuce.


The apartment windows were caked with dirt or lined with ripped paper. Two flickering candles provided the only light. As Alvira approached the bagman he became aware of another crew worker. The apartment had a foyer off the main room, and in it sat a huge honcho with what looked like an Uzi draped across his lap. The candles flickered, and soon all Alvira could see was the glow of the man’s cigarette.

“Gimme six,” Alvira said, passing the fanned-out bills to the bagman.

“Five! J’payin’ f’five,” the bagman said, almost looking up over the rim of his hat, catching himself before he made eye contact.

“Gimme six f’five, baby. Don’t I get a play when I score half a bundle?”

The bagman’s teeth glinted in the dark as he smirked at the dumb blanco. “Where you been, poppa? No mo’ play no way. Buy nine hundred ninety-nine bags, I gib j’one free.”

“Damn, you people used to give me a nice play back—”

“Nobody git no play. It’s better shit. Cos’ more t’operate. I yus’ a workin’ man, poppa. M’boss say no play. Now split. I gotta keep the line movin’.”

“Sure,” Alvira said as he closed his fist around the halfbundle, turned, marched indignantly out the door.

There was a shooting gallery on the floor below, and on their way down someone asked if they wanted to get off. Three bucks if they had their own works. Otherwise six. It was a hard sell. The man said his friend inside could hit so professional there’d be no marks.

“O’ how’z ’bout a jugular hit, m’man?”

“Thanks. We pass.”

“You know, sometimes they raze one of these buildings and find corpses stuffed all over the fuckin’ place,” T said. “In the basements, apartments, just about anywhere.”

“Makes sense. That jugular dude must make a fortune with skills like that.”

“Alvira, this scene is too frantic for the likes of me, but this is where the real money is. I mean, you can set up as a house connection, and if you’re lucky and establish the right clientele you’ll sporadically make out. You know, middle-class customers always cleaning up on you when you’re holding. But the street spells infinite demand and limited supply. It’s nothing for a good crew to turn eighty grand a day. LaTuna is sold out before the sun goes down. They start the morning heavy and sell out before the noon drop. The afternoon stuff is gone by seven or eight.”

“What about Green Tape?”

“Goes all night. Also Black Mark. Twenty-four hours of goodness. That whole corner is nonstop no matter what. If they run out of one there’s the other. Run out of both, they just tell you to wait or walk around and come back. That’s bad because customers accumulate and make the vendadors nervous. The heat know what’s happenin’ when they see a swarm of floating blanco flotsam hanging around. So the crew workers don’t like the wait any more than the customers. They try to facilitate fluid in-and-out traffic. If they’re well organized there’s an extra stashman to pick up the next batch while the bagman works what he’s got. I know one of the bosses, a guy named Chu. He was just fired from LaTuna. Chu’s Dominican, and the Puerto Ricans in LaTuna gave him a hard time. He’s the dude who’s going to take us to the ShyWun. The crew leaders are supplied by the owners, who are supplied by the Cuban mobs and others. Lots of independents these days. Run it a week, get rich, cool out. Longer action requires connections. Chu knows a major player who’s going to do us a lot of good. Not on the supply end. I have my Uncle’s people for that. But the ShyWun can see to it that we don’t step on toes or draw excessive heat. Forget about us selling to existing crews. The cash in this business is in retail. What we need is protected space where we can run our crews. These brand-name scores are run like conservative businesses; workers get a commission on a per-bag basis, except for touters and lookouts, who’re on salary. Green Tape comes out of the basement our man René ran into on Eighth Street, although sometimes it shifts to a doorway, a van parked on the street. Sometimes you see the bagman sitting in a parked car in broad daylight feeding the runners as if he had a license. No one seems to notice. They rarely get busted, never ripped off.”

“And Black Mark?”

“One of our people told me the Mark walks over in a baby carriage. Never the same girl pushin’ it, and no idea with who or where it’s dropped off. Seems to change. A tight ever-evolving system. Very complex; procedurally repetitive but confusingly unpredictable. Obviously the work of a highly developed criminal computer of some sort.”

“Jumpin’ Jesuits!” Alvira said. “Order one for me!”

High Times Magazine, January 1985

Read the full issue here.

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Maven Genetics is One of the Rec Stars of 2023

If you’re a regular consumer in California’s recreational market, it’s pretty hard to miss Maven Genetics these days. Since the team broke out of their shell, they’ve made an epic run on shelf space up and down the state this year. The growth has been backboned by a solid spread of house genetics, and a few new accolades they received for their flower recently won’t hurt either. We sat down with the team at Maven Genetics a couple of days removed from their top-five finish with French Laundry in The Emerald Cup’s hyper competitive indoor division.

Maven’s co-founder and President Mike Corvington started the tale by noting how long the team had been working together previously to Maven being formed as an entity in the era of adult-use legalization.

“We obviously all come from the traditional side and have collectively been doing our thing since the late ’90s, early 2000s and kind of slowly scaled up our endeavors throughout that time from backyards and house grows to entering into the warehouse game,” Corvington told High Times.

Pink Monet / Courtesy Maven Genetics

Corvington’s partner, Maven CEO David Bosworth, was the first of the group to get a warehouse going in the early 2000s. From there they went off in downtown LA for a bit. But while Maven is now known for having a giant spread of flavors to pick from, they weren’t at that point back then.

“We were strictly OG,” Corvington stressed. “We were blessed with the original Triangle Kush cut from Miami. Essentially the same one Josh D had. Our other buddy Chad had a pre-98 that we traded for that back in the late ’90s. So we grew a little bit of Bubba here and there, but predominantly from the early 2000s all the way until, I think 2016-17, we just cranked out lots and lots of OG. We basically flooded the valley with OG and just really top-quality OG.”

In 2015, the team would eventually start to work with the XXX OG cut they run to this day. It’s still a staple of their lineup and breeding work, and Corvington swears by the cut.

“That one is just super special,” he said.

XXX OG is one of the strains they don’t expect to cycle out from the 20 or so they have in production at the moment. It’s a mainstay on their menu.

While Corvington isn’t spending as much time in the garden as he did back in the day, he’s a critical piece of the Maven brain trust that determines what they’ll be growing, how much, and when, to make sure they keep a constant supply of product.

Before formally establishing the company, Maven sold genetics. Now they offer flower and concentrates featuring their genetics. Corvington explained that Maven officially became an entity when they got the trademark for the logo in 2017.

Blue Agape / Courtesy Maven Genetics

“The logo kind of evolved through a few different iterations. I mean, we had the brand established in like 2015. And then it kind of went through a couple of iterations,” Corvington said. “I think it’s 2017 we actually officially trademarked it as an apparel brand federally.”

Corvington went on to note that 2015 was also the year they really saw the writing on the wall as far as the need to become their own brand, as opposed to dudes just pumping out fire OGs.

“We entered a few competitions and we started to see the slow transition from deli-style and then realizing that people are entering our flower into competitions and winning,” Corvington said. “And so we’re like, ‘We just need to do this.’ And kind of early on we saw that brands were going to be the way of the future so that’s why being vertically integrated has always been our approach.”

Corvington added that Maven has never been looking to have a massive retail footprint but instead wanted to have a few flagship shops to distribute the flower they work so hard on. Their two shops make up a small fraction of a percent of the shelf space they now have throughout over 400 dispensaries across California.

2017 was the year that Maven started hunting down all the flavors they’re now famous for. The decision to start hunting new terpene profiles coincided with the transition to the recreational market.

We asked Corvington if the team hadn’t hunted anything in 15 years at that point.

“Yeah, pretty much man. I mean, you know, small scale. There were a few packs of seeds here and there that we’d pop but very rarely at that point was I finding anything that was worth growing on any kind of scale,” Corvington said. “So 2017 was really when we started pushing a larger genetic line.”

Maven Genetics
White Dahlia / Courtesy Maven Genetics

Maven will pop about 100 seeds when they’re hunting for new flavors. Some hunts have gotten up to 200 but they find that 100 number to be their sweet spot. Corvington noted they are looking for everything. Sure, the economics of things are critical, but they’re still excited to see those wild flavors and outliers that might not make sense in a full production run.

Maybe Maven can do something else with them given how robust the inhouse breeding program got in 2020 a few years after they started popping all the seeds.

“I’d say the breeding program was not really in full swing ‘till like 2020. We definitely popped different gear, but it wasn’t until 2020 that I would say we had any kind of impactful programming,” Corvington explained.

Some of the early successes of the program included the Blueberry Skunk. Maven would go on to run a few more Blueberry lines—such as Blueberry Zkittlez which is still in production—but Corvington argued they have evolved a lot since those early wins in the breeding room.

“I feel like you know, we’ve really kind of made some impacts in the past year and a half because initially even in the breeding that we’re doing, it was kind of more we were kind of feeling our way through it and finding more things that were commercially viable, but that I don’t know if I would at this point say we’re long term keepers like our XXX OG and things that, you know, we’ll forever hold on to at this point,” Corvington said.

Right now Maven is running about 1,100 lights. They’re also deep in the process of converting a couple of their spaces to double-stacked LEDs. They had previously run HPS exclusively, but they’ve already done some test runs with Hawthorne as they look to dial it in on the LED side.

Corvington believes a lot of the people who have struggled with LEDs aren’t handling the environmental conditions the right way. But he also admits some cultivars seem to do better under LED compared to HPS despite many being convinced it’s always the other way around.

“I think with LEDs you really have to have your environmentals tuned in properly,” Corvington said. “A lot of people will not be getting the yields—are not getting the quality—and it’s just a result of their photosynthetic photon efficacy being off or just their environmental not being dialed in properly. You really have to have your stuff on point to grow well with LEDs.”

French Laundry / Courtesy Maven Genetics

We asked Corvington if their cultivation standard operating procedures were strain-specific or if the genetics needed to fit into the system that Maven has built out. He argued it’s a little bit of both. While they certainly cater to the plant, they try and group the room with things that have similar tolerance levels to the environment.

Some of those rooms can get up to 162 lights. Corvington admits they obviously have a bit more control on the stuff in the smaller rooms where it’s easier to keep a tight rein on things. That being said, he’s happy with what the big rooms are putting out.

Corvington went on to speak about concerns that the big menu makes it hard for their rock stars to shine.

“I mean, that’s always there and I thought we could reduce the menu, but, you know, I feel like our cadence with our strain offerings works for the buyers that we work with in our relationships,” Corvington explained. “Because you get some groups that just kind of want six different strains and they’re happy with that. But inevitably, there are other groups that they’re perfectly happy. They want variety because the customer base wants variety.”

This article was originally published in the August 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

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A Free-Floating Power

With a calm, collected demeanor, Solomon Johnson has a presence that lets you know he’s ready for the next challenge. When we meet at a cafe in Berkeley, California, Johnson is readying to open a restaurant within his home state of Maryland. He’s just returned from a charity event in Savannah, Georgia, that raised funds for No Kid Hungry—an organization that aims to end childhood hunger in the U.S.—and is on the heels of hosting a six-course CBD-infused meal in Napa Valley the prior week. As a chef working his way through a global health pandemic that decimated the livelihood of those working in the restaurant industry, Johnson has learned how to pivot. After the pandemic pushed him out of his first salary-based position in a kitchen, Johnson jumped on an opportunity to be featured on Chopped 420, a cannabis cooking competition on Discovery+. His restaurant endeavors in Oakland, California, and his success on the show, led him to become the chef for a cannabis-infused dinner series. Still, he assures me he’s not a “cannabis chef,” but rather a “chef who really loves weed.”

“Like any other ingredient in my pantry that I nerd out about, I do research,” Johnson says. “If I want to learn how to use certain food products to create something that people enjoy, I have to do my due diligence. It’s just about studying and experimenting. You know, getting your hands dirty.”

Johnson says his mom planted and watered the seed for him to become a chef. His parents also had a hand in his beginnings with cannabis as he grew up around weed and stole his first joint from his dad.

“The smell of [cannabis] reminds me of home,” he says. 

Photo by Cynthia Glassell Photography

Johnson was born and raised in Montgomery County, Maryland, and studied broadcast journalism at Bowie State, an HBCU, before moving to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to study culinary management. Now 35, his first job in a kitchen as an 18-year-old working at IHOP gave him the cooking bug.

“It’s like a pirate ship back there,” Johnson says with a laugh. “I was so young, and everyone’s like, you know, drinking and partying after work. You get all this camaraderie, and it’s like a second family because you work so much that you see them more than your family. It was a sense of community, and we’re just like a band of misfits, you know what I mean? It’s just like being a rock star.”

His friends at home started calling themselves the swoop team, an acronym that stands for a “special way of obtaining power,” that he’s transformed under his nickname Chef Swoop to mean a “special way of opening palates.”

“I’m a private chef. I’m a kitchen consultant. I have no home base really in particular other than where I decide to land. So that’s my special way of obtaining my power to do what I need to do is just being free-floating,” he says.

Photo by Cameron Dantley

Johnson moved to Oakland in 2013 and opened a cold-pressed juice bar the following year. After moving on from that concept, he started hosting pop-up dinners under his private catering company. When the pandemic shut down in-person dining, he started the Bussdown with his business partner chef Michael Woods in a CloudKitchen, a delivery-only restaurant facility. The Bussdown, Johnson explains, adopts a Pan-African food ideology, “which means we try to encompass all Black and brown food diasporas.” Within the Bussdown, the meals are influenced by places like Jamaica, Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republic, and the American South. Today Woods operates their fine dining restaurant Oko within Oakland’s iconic Tribune Tower while Johnson embarks on a fast-casual concept for the Bussdown in its first brick-and-mortar expression within a food hall in Washington, D.C.

In the midst of that opening, he’s also been the chef for Cannescape, a new tourism concept that incorporates cannabis-infused fine dining with overnight hotel stays. During a 4/20 dinner hosted in Napa Valley, Johnson presented a meal infused with CBD. The dinner included a smoked yogurt watermelon salad, and cannabis leaves dipped in a tempura batter.

“CBD, after eating it, you’re going to feel medicated, but because it’s non-psychoactive we want to make sure that people feel something,” he says. “So, an indefinite sleep, like not remembering when you fell asleep? That’s priceless. You get home and you’re like, ‘Damn, man, I don’t even remember passing out,’ and then on top of that, the food was delicious and everybody had a good time. That’s an undeniable experience.”

Johnson started experimenting with cannabis infusions when he was a freshman in college, but only jumped into it professionally after filming Chopped 420. He used cannabis flower-infused olive oil to win his victory on Chopped 420, but says he likes using kief for its flavor profile.

Solomon Johnson joins Cannescape founder Chelsea Davis at a 4/20 dinner event. Photo by Cynthia Glassell Photography

“It’s fun to incorporate [cannabis] into vegetable-forward dishes,” he says. “The herbaceousness of cannabis itself is just very complementary to the things that have chlorophyll. It just makes sense that green things taste good with green things.”

In terms of cooking with cannabis, he says he “cooks it like true food” and incorporates cannabis in things like sauces and oils. In the same way that he bucks the idea of being tethered to one place, he finds his creativity in incorporating cannabis beyond desserts.

“I want the food to stand alone because I want it to be delicious. I want it to be undeniable,” Johnson says. “I don’t necessarily want the infusion to be the focal point. You want the food to carry the weight. The infusion is just like the cherry.”

This article was originally published in the August 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

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Ganja Gastronomy

Consuming cannabis together with friends, loved ones, or even strangers, is a time-honored tradition. It’s a communal elevation of bodies and minds in a shared space as we seek connection and camaraderie. Inspired by this meaningful experience, Arizona-based Cloth & Flame creates unique cannabis-infused meals incorporating a scientific flair of molecular gastronomy that stretch the culinary possibilities of cannabis.

Cloth & Flame hosts private events, such as corporate gatherings or weddings, but it also offers popular limited ticket events as well (it’s important to note that some are centered around cannabis consumption, while others are not). Instead of operating from a single brick-and-mortar restaurant, Cloth & Flame’s dining experiences are hosted in a variety of unique locations, from historic buildings to stunning landscapes both in Arizona and in other states.

Cloth & Flame’s “Verde Series” in particular offers a communal cannabis experience with elaborate entertainment, atmosphere, and infused food to create an experience that diners will never forget.

Photo by Winona Grey

Founded in 2017 by husband-and-wife duo Matt Cooley and Olivia Laux, Cloth & Flame’s goal is to create unique experiences that unite attendees.

“People love to experience things like they belong to a community and they get to experience these beautiful places and it opens them up to each other,” Cooley says.

Behind the scenes of Cloth & Flame is a dedicated team of individuals working to ensure that their respective areas of focus deliver a spectacular impact. The result is an impressive display of themes, but Cooley explains that the guests themselves are always the most important part of the experience.

“Like they, the people attending, are actually the thing everyone else is experiencing the most fully,” Cooley says. “Our work is just kind of like, it’s a structure and a catalyst. It’s not the experience. The experience is the people.”

The first event in the Verde Series was entitled “Homegrown” and was held shortly after Arizona adult-use cannabis sales began in 2021. Other previous Verdes Series themes included “High Country,” “Flower to Table,” and “Hi Fi,” but the most recent ticketed cannabis event was the fifth, called “High Tea,” and was held at the 113-year-old building known as The Icehouse in Phoenix, Arizona on April 20-21.

Head in the Clouds, photo by Winona Grey

The High Tea event was limited to just over 100 guests. Within the grand entrance of The Icehouse, there was an installment of billowing clouds situated in front of an infinity mirror. Huge green curtains were hung around the space and the event began with a photo op consisting of moss-covered lawn chairs for tarot card and tea readings.

Upon arriving, attendees were served an infused beverage with a smoke bubble on top that popped when they took the first sip. The drink contained a 2 mg water-soluble THC distillate, a low dose that allowed consumers to gauge how much cannabis they’d like to consume further based on their personal tolerance and experience.

Cloth & Flame’s dining experience included an assortment of menu items that were thoughtfully crafted to represent the theme of High Tea. For that particular event, the multi-course meal was infused with cannabis products from Copperstate Farms, a Snowflake, Arizona-based cannabis company. Cloth & Flame’s chef Cassie Shortino and cannabis dosing expert Ivo Knehnetsky shed light on the thought and innovation behind some of the evening’s creative and nostalgic menu items.

“The whole dinner went back and forth between using CBD, THC, water-soluble THC, and water-soluble CBN in order for each guest to go on a little cannabinoid roller coaster,” Knehnetsky says. “The intention was that as the dinner progressed, each guest would feel the calming effects of CBD, then followed by the medicating effects of THC, finished with the sedative effects of CBN.”

“Passed bites” such as Copenhagen-style hot dogs (which contained 2 mg THC) were also available, an appetizer that Knehnetsky explains were inspired by his personal experience eating “some of the best hot dogs” he’s ever had in Copenhagen, Denmark.

“I had to recreate that moment of joy for this Verde Series dinner and did my best to include all the same toppings that I fell in love with in Copenhagen,” Knehnetsky says.

Smoke Show, photo by Winona Grey

Shortino credits culinary team member Kentin Cullymore as the creator of the warm Hokkaido milk buns (2 mg CBD) served with house-made jelly and butter that were served later at the table, describing the dish as “reminiscent of peanut butter and jelly.”

“Ivo and I designed the menu together and truly it was just a combination of ideas that would be delicious to eat high,” Shortino says. 

Other menu items included a taco salad bowl, cucumber mint popsicles, and prawn panang curry. One of the final items on the menu was a “Head in the Clouds” jasmine rose tea (2 mg CBD) that was served with a cloud of cotton candy on top that melted when hot water was poured into the cup.

More unique Cloth & Flame events such as the High Tea dinner are in development—keep an eye on their website for upcoming announcements.

This article was originally published in the July 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

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What Makes Bubbleman Bubble?

In life the best connections and stories always happen organically. One person I’ve always wanted to sit down and chat with was Bubbleman. I’d met him more than 20 years ago in Amsterdam at my mentor Soma’s house and we’d bump into each other over the years at events and conferences, but we never had a proper sesh with just the two of us. In life I’m always drawn to people who have an unwavering passion and with Bubbleman that passion is all about the trichome heads and the hash that can be made from them.

Having used his bags to make hash in Amsterdam since the early 2000s, I really wanted to learn what had inspired his journey into the world of hash and the origins of the man that is known the world over as Bubbleman. Our conversation was an amazing journey into the history that shaped one of the cannabis industry’s great innovators and how he would become so intrinsically connected to hash. His unwavering desire to give back to the community has led to a vast collection of information, videos, and images that are openly available online. From his YouTube page Bubbleman’s World, with millions of views and over 100,000 subscribers to the weekly episodes of Hash Church that he has hosted, if one desires to consume all of this content they will have an amazing view into the history of hash-making techniques from all over the world.

Marcus Richardson grew up in the Canadian prairies in Manitoba. He was always drawn to the cannabis plant and was an early hemp pioneer and activist, who discovered cannabis early in his life and found it to be the medicine he needed. After starting with flower he quickly discovered that hash worked better for his system. This was the seed that would germinate and eventually bloom into a world filled with full melt, clear dome bubble hash, dry sift, and hashish.

High Times Magazine, July 2023

This journey would take him all over the world as he traveled to countries that specialized in local hash traditions. One picture of him that always stood out to me was a photograph of him sitting next to an Indian holy man or Baba, who was staring at the camera intensely because he couldn’t understand how the button would be pressed in order to snap their picture. Of course there was a remote tethered to the SLR camera that could be pushed, Bubbleman told me. He went on to explain that the holy man, named Pashupadi, had approached him because his hash smelled so good and he wanted to try some. The hash in question was a phenomenal piece of Nepalese resin. Even in the mid ’90s in Nepal, Bubbleman sourced some of the finest hash available.

These adventures searching the world for the finest hash would also lead him to Amsterdam and some of the early Cannabis Cups, his first being in 1995. It was in Amsterdam he would meet and befriend many of the early hash and cannabis pioneers that had found shelter in the Dutch city due to its lenient cannabis policies. In Amsterdam he met people like Rob Clarke (the author of Hashish), Soma (an American cannabis breeder), and Sam The Skunkman (the legendary creator of the skunk strain, and many other early cannabis strains). These journeys would lift the veil on some of the rarest and cleanest hash of the time, including one of the earliest examples of BHO extract.

Photo by Marcus “Bubbleman” Richardson

At the 1999 cup he was at the Nose’s house, (he was an original celebrity Cannabis Cup judge and a local hash connoisseur). While sitting around the table Bubbleman witnessed butane being pushed through a Bic pen, stuffed with flower and hash. The butane pushed out some of the strongest oil Bubbleman had tried at that point and was one of the earliest firsthand examples of BHO being used to make a concentrate.

Here was someone that had been in the right place at the right time and got to bear witness to hash products and the techniques that made them from a majority of the hash making countries in the world. This exposure to extraction and separation of the trichome heads would lead him down multiple hash rabbit holes, giving him a vast almost encyclopedic knowledge surrounding global hash culture. Through these experiences he would coin the term “the hash quiver.” Borrowing from archery, the quiver can hold different pieces of hash and different techniques for making them.

During one of his trips to Amsterdam a valuable new hash arrow would find its way into his quiver: ice water extracted hash, or bubble hash.

Photo by Marcus “Bubbleman” Richardson

At the 1997 Cannabis Cup, Swiss inventor Reinhard Delph gave a demonstration at hash queen Mila Jansen’s house. Two other people were there, an early cannabis entrepreneur named Mark Rose and a cannabis activist named Eldon. It was here that an important part of hash history occurred. The three watched as Reinhard made ice water hash using his Ice Cold Extractor. The device, a conical shaped metal drum, would be filled with biomass, ice, and water. Unlike the modern ice water bag system, this machine relied on the maturity of the trichome head. The biggest and most ripe heads would easily break away and get collected in the down stem of the funnel at the base of the machine. After the demonstration Eldon thought why not just use nylon bags with screens at the bottom draped into different buckets. This way you can pour the ice cold agitated water through each screen, separating the trichome heads and isolating the desired sized head. Rose suggested they call it the Ice-O-Lator bag system. Eldon unfortunately never benefited in any way from the invention he helped create but he will be remembered as having a crucial place in the history of ice water hash.

At that same cup in 1997, Bubbleman was walking up a set of Dutch stairs to a restaurant and passed by Rob Clarke who was sitting on one of the stairs to the restaurant looking at some hash. He said to Bubbleman, “If it don’t bubble, it ain’t worth the trouble.” This phrase stuck in Bubbleman’s head, and would eventually become the slogan for his product, Bubble Bags.

Photo by Marcus “Bubbleman” Richardson

Months after launching his bag system, Bubbleman would be contacted by Sam The Skunkman. Sam emailed him to see where he had heard that expression before and to clarify that he was the first to have coined it, and he told Clarke. Bubbleman’s polite and respectful response to this email started their decade-long friendship and the slogan remained part of Bubble Bags’s branding.

Immediately after that 1997 cup Rose went out and made a prototype bag set called the Ice-O-Lator system. The original bags were made in Kathmandu in Nepal. The Ice-O-Lator system was a big hit at the 1998 Cannabis Cup but quickly thereafter Jansen would go her own way and she started selling and manufacturing the Ice-O-Lator bags without Rose. Shortly thereafter, Bubbleman and Rose partnered up and launched the Bubble Bags in late 1998.

Thinking about ways to improve the process, Bubbleman and Rose adjusted the micron sizes of the new bags and started using parachute thread and nylon kite material so that the bags could be dried and remoistened over and over again without any fear that the fabric will pile and leave remnants behind in the hash. They also added a third bag with a 45-micron screen to their original set. Eventually they would introduce a 5-, 6-, 7-, and 8-bag kit giving the hash maker various choices when it came to separating their different sized heads. It wasn’t too long after the launch that the term bubble hash would enter the cannabis culture vernacular.

What sets these bags apart from other ice water screens is the rich culture associated with their history and founder. These bags trace their origin to a golden era of cannabis celebrated every year in Amsterdam at the Cannabis Cup. By buying Bubble Bags you are buying into a bit of history documented through the lens of a man driven by his love of hash and the vast methods to produce it. You are also buying a bag that to this day is manufactured using the same high standards as when it first debuted in 1998. Each bag is still covered by a lifetime guarantee and backed up by a support network on YouTube containing thousands of hours of tips, tricks, and facts about hash and ice water extraction. Bubbleman’s World on YouTube has amassed millions of views and also has every episode of Hash Church produced. This fireside table style zoom discussion featuring hashmakers and cannabis legends talking openly about a vast range of topics in the world of hash making.

Photo by Marcus “Bubbleman” Richardson

When asked about the future of hash in the now growing legal world of commercial cannabis, Bubbleman explained that he wants to be the bridge between the new and the experienced.

Not everyone coming into a cannabis store wants to spend top dollar on six-star melt (top quality ice water hash) or live rosin. The average consumer might be new to this world. That’s why he is once again on the cutting edge of hash products and is launching a dugout style one hitter filled with a 0.25 gram of hash, called HashHits. The product just launched in Washington state and will be launching in more states across the U.S. and Canada sometime this year.

What makes the product so unique is that you only need a lighter to experience a great hit of hash. This makes it super easy and accessible for new users that might be hesitant to try the different types of resin due to the high cost of a smoking device needed to truly enjoy a hit. 

Bubbleman has once again added an important arrow to the hash consumer’s quiver and opened the door for a new generation of hash heads to enter the community.

This article was originally published in the July 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

The post What Makes Bubbleman Bubble? appeared first on High Times.

The Hash Sommelier

Shortly after the first hash pairing, the bright high hits me. I go silent and get lost in the scene—the light glistening off the water, the spectacular red expanse of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the short bell-like dings and creaks produced by boats rocking in the harbor. My host Sarah Jain Bergman notices my silence and laughs. She can tell this hit got me lifted. It’s a beautiful spring day in the San Francisco Bay, and we’re dabbing a selection of incredibly flavorful hash rosins. Bergman, who has built a personal brand as a hash sommelier, is curating the experience, pairing blueberries with Z x Strawnana. The combination tastes like a fruit smoothie.

As a hash sommelier, Bergman marries the flavors of cannabis concentrates with food. Like wine sommeliers present wine and food pairings so that fine diners can experience all aspects of wine appreciation, Bergman is a connoisseur of all things hash. She doesn’t drink, but she’s a supertaster when it comes to terpenes—where the flavors and aromas of both hash and wine originate.

“I appreciate flower, but concentrates are where it’s at for me flavorwise,” she says. “With concentrates, it’s just a cleaner, clearer high. The flavor, it’s just more pure.”

The cannabis flower for the Z x Strawnana hash rosin was grown by Mendoja Farms and processed by West Coast Alchemy. In cannabis these details align with understanding both a grape grower and a winemaker when it comes to enjoying a bottle of wine. 

Cannabis concentrates isolate the resinous glands (the trichomes) on the cannabis flower, where terpenes and cannabinoids are located, and remove them from the plant material. 

“I find that the plant material sometimes gets in the way of the pairings,” Bergman says, explaining why she prefers cannabis concentrates over flowers. “[Hash is] terpenes and everything that I want, without having to taste that green of plants. That material, a lot of it’s really not that good. I mean, it’s fucking grass [laughs]. At the end of the day, I’m not a fan of chlorophyll.”

Bergman grew up in Texas but has lived in California for 15 years. She first moved to LA to do the “model/acting thing” and has been between the San Francisco Bay Area and Europe ever since. She experienced smoking cannabis at a young age and has an early childhood memory of her dad deseeding a leafy green substance explaining, “These are the seeds we feed to the birds.” Her dad, she says, loved hash.

“And looking at things as I get older, I’m like, ‘I am my father’s daughter,’” she says.

In the course of her own appreciation for hash, Bergman has hosted elite international competitions and now collaborates with cannabis brands to host hash tastings with food pairings that started with fruit, cheese, and chocolate but have developed to include full meals. During her hash sessions, she adopts many concepts that align with the practices of wine tasting.

Courtesy Sarah Jain Bergman

Cold Storage/Aging

“Hash” is a catch-all term for concentrates, which have matured in terms of the way they are processed and also the way they are enjoyed. One of the current trends in hash is the growing popularity of  “solventless” concentrates, or those produced without the use of a chemical solvent. This category includes hash rosin, cannabis flowers made into ice water hash and then pressed with heat.

After ice water hash is pressed with heat, it creates “fresh press” hash rosin, which is translucent. The material is then often “cold cured” or whipped into a badder-like cloudy consistency and set in a room temperature environment. This extra step, Bergman explains, helps to stabilize the shelf life of hash rosin. 

As with wine which is highly susceptible to environmental changes, the proper storage of cannabis concentrates is essential.

Both fresh press and cold cured hash rosin should be stored chilled—in a refrigerator or a portable cooler—to retain texture and freshness. Hash rosins are brought up to room temperature only when they are ready to be enjoyed.

If appropriately stored, hash can be aged.

“What I think we’re ultimately looking towards is hash storage,” Bergman says. “Hash especially is the only market where there’s a way to store it, and five, 10 years later if you do it properly, it can still be as good from the day it was packaged. But, like a bottle of wine, it will begin to deteriorate from the moment that it comes to temp and is opened.”

Courtesy Sarah Jain Bergman

Proper Glassware

A key element of dabbing is the consumption gear. Puffco produces several of the most popular e-rigs on the market that come with a ceramic nail and work well on the go. But, applying the luxury wine-tasting ethos of using a decanter and specific stemmed glasses to tasting hash, Bergman believes the supreme way to taste a dab is with a quartz nail.

“Where this is going is like more high-end liquor,” she says of hash trends. “If you were to look at [hash] in the same way as wine or liquor, even right down to the consumption method and tasting method, most random people are smoking flower or vape carts. Most people are drinking shitty beer out of cans or fucking red cups. You know? Then you start to get into your craft beer people, who might start to know the brands but are still buying dispensary weed. Then you get into the people who really nerd out on it.”

Serving Temperature 

During our tasting session, Bergman uses a torch to heat a quartz nail attached to her dab rig and uses a device called TempTech to check the temperature of the quartz. Depending on what type of cannabis concentrate is being dabbed as well as the overall temperature of the room or outside environment, the sweet spot, Bergman explains, is anywhere between 480° to 560° Fahrenheit.  

“What we really need is for like the Germans or the Swiss to get really into dabs, like on that level, and for them to start building some high-tech functional shit,” Bergman says. “Even like Puffco, it’s a great product. It’s like your Toyota or your Honda. It’s great because anything is replaceable. But I want to see, like that Mercedes, BMW of dabs. Something with a quartz.”

Tasting in a Clean Glass

When evaluating wine, it’s essential to have a clean glass. Bergman keeps her glass rig meticulously clean and has a methodology for cleaning her quartz nail after each hit by dunking it in 91% isopropyl alcohol. This step ensures that no residue is left behind so that the quality and flavor of each hit are not compromised. Most dabbers don’t take the step of dunking the nail in alcohol after each hit, opting instead for a Q-tip to clean the nail after each dab.

Courtesy Sarah Jain Bergman

Food Pairings

The idea behind the appeal of the pairings is that the terpenes in the food intensify the flavors and effects of the terpenes in the concentrates. During our tasting, the three dabs I took—paired with blueberries, raspberries, and chocolate—left me high for hours. 

Terpenes are the aromatic chemicals found in cannabis and all sorts of other botanicals such as fruits and cacao. In the Marijuana Grower’s Handbook Cannabis cultivation expert Ed Rosenthal speculates that mangoes, which contain myrcene, may help THC cross the blood-brain barrier (the network that allows substances to reach the brain) faster. Bergman expands upon the idea of eating mangoes to enhance a high with the terpenes in other fruits like blueberries, which contain terpenes that are also found in weed, eucalyptol (aka cineole) and linalool.

This article was originally published in the July 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

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Love & Six Star

A marriage and a lot of dope hash later, Alice and Flynn from Wooksauce Winery are on top of the hash game. Alice has emerged as one the biggest hash names on the planet. Flynn, while not quite as public-facing as Alice, is also widely respected by his peers, clawing his way to the top after first moving west from Minnesota a decade ago. When their skills come together under the Wooksauce, it’s pretty hard to top.

When they won the Emerald Cup’s personal use solventless category in 2022, it felt like more of a coronation than an awards ceremony. Well before that night in Hollywood, Wooksauce Winery was synonymous with six-star hash. Six star is the magic that happens when the best extractors in the world get access to the best material. The resulting hash is not only world class full melt, but also one of the best expressions of a given cannabis strain. That being said, not all strains wash well enough to be commercially viable to make hash. Even if it’s bomb, if the numbers don’t hit right it’s a waste of material.

In addition, that six-star signifier vindicates the process of everyone along each step of the hash being made. For the farmer it shows what’s possible with their fresh frozen material. Once a farm produces material capable of six-star hash it changes everything for them. While freezers sit idle around the state filled with frozen marijuana awaiting processing, the farms that actually produce the best material can’t grow enough of it. Many argue the current number of farms that can produce six-star material is less than a dozen, and some would argue that cutting that number in half is still generous.

High Times Magazine, July 2023. Photo by Chris Romaine, Kandid Kush

For extractors like Wooksauce Winery, producing six-star hash proves they are worthy of having access to the best material. It can’t be overstated how critical that is because competition is brutal. There are new rec market hash companies popping up in California every quarter and there are new trap rosin brands coming up on nearly a daily basis. I wish I was exaggerating. Despite a solventless processing permit being a lot easier to score than a hydrocarbon one because water doesn’t explode, many extractors will never make it to that side of the market.

The Wooksauce duo’s paths began to converge in 2017 after Alice, who is originally from Brazil, came out to California to attend a Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies conference. Following the conference she would head north to Humboldt County where she had her first experience with hash made from fresh frozen material. She’d previously tried hash washed in Brazil, but those first rips of the heat in Humboldt were one of those “talk to god” moments that set her down the path that’s seen her rise to the highest echelons of the hash game in just over half a decade.

She’d head back to Brazil to graduate but wouldn’t stay long.

“I was like ‘I need to learn how to make that.’ So I graduated and I came up one month after I graduated,” Alice told High Times. “I came up here and I kind of, like, never looked back to my degree or anything.”

She worked on cannabis farms in Humboldt upon her return. Eventually Alice and Flynn would realize how close they were to each other and planned to meet up to make hash. Alice was also looking to learn about dry freezers and Flynn said he’d teach her. One of Alice’s pals gave her some pepper spray in the event Flynn was a creep. He wasn’t, but upon meeting Alice dropped the pepper spray out of her purse.

“In my head I was like, ‘Was that to make sure that I knew not to mess around?’” Flynn said of his initial reaction to Alice getting in the car. “This girl was ready.”

In the end Alice traded Flynn a temple ball for some hash. The hash she traded was from her first big wash in California before they met.

But their paths that led to that moment were very different. Alice started making hash in Brazil with friends a decade ago.

Courtesy Wooksauce Winery

“I made some green juice in Brazil, which means I did a very shitty wash in Brazil. The reality in Brazil, it’s like you grow just a small amount of plants,” Alice explained. “So it takes like a few runs and a few cycles for you to gather enough material to do a wash, right?”

Alice emphasized that she came from a more traditional hash world. She smoked spliffs until she linked up with Flynn. We asked Alice if her time back in Brazil before returning to California was tough, since she now knew what was possible with great material.

“I mean, honestly, after I came here for the first time, I’ve never looked back to try to do anything in Brazil. I just kept very much focused on California. I would spend six months of the year here,” Alice said.

Eventually she returned to Humboldt to further her education, moved in with Flynn, and the pair were married in 2020.

Flynn’s journey started in Minnesota. He then would head to Seattle for his freshman year of college and was blown away by how advanced the medical cannabis system in Washington state was.

“When I moved to Seattle, it was 10 light years ahead as far as what was going on, there was a medical system,” Flynn explained. “So I immediately jumped in there and like found my way into buying trim off Craigslist and trying to make bubble hash, then I got a job at a grow store.”

His boss at the grow store would give him trim but unfortunately never froze any of it. Realizing that material was king, Flynn started cultivating in 2012. His first brand back in the day was Flintstone Farms. In 2014 he got the ball rolling on Wooksauce Winery and dabbled in both Washington and California.

“At the end of 2017, I moved from Washington to California and then tried to get a permit in Sonoma County. Sonoma County got all crazy. The property for that didn’t end up working out but luckily I found some partners that I still have and that’s how I got my shop in Humboldt started,” Flynn said.

Alice and Flynn of Wooksauce Winery, Photo by Chris Romaine, Kandid Kush

The headaches in Sonoma also changed the whole format of Wooksauce Winery.

“Previous to that Wooksauce had only ever done single source,” Flynn said.

Single source means they both grew the flower and processed it into hash in-house.

“Now we do a lot more collaborations the last couple of years working with other farmers and stuff like that,” Flynn said. “But that move was basically because we had to stop cultivating under our own deal.”

Alice and Flynn still call Sonoma County home, but they don’t expect to be cultivating again there any time soon.

We asked the pair what some of the biggest surprises have been since the California market entered the legal era. One of the biggest surprises for Flynn was how readily available fresh frozen has become compared to the struggles of the medical cannabis era. He’s also thankful to see the solventless scene expand from his consulting days.

“In my opinion [solventless hash is] becoming much more like a respected SKU on all fronts that even MSOs are paying attention to,” Flynn said. “Like the bigger corporations are trying to put out rosin brands and now [they] all got a rosin pen and all these types of things, bringing it to the larger market.”

Smarties, fresh-press hash rosin. Courtesy Wooksauce Winery

One thing the pair has witnessed is the massive consolidation of the industry. We asked if there is any concern about the waves of consolidation impacting the availability of material as farms close. Flynn pointed to his cultivation partnership in Humboldt helping to keep stress low in that regard.

“I mean, I’d say on the legal side that’s why I’m blessed and I thought was a really good thing that my partner has like, you know, 10,000 square feet of cultivation up in Humboldt,” Flynn said.

Alice weighed in on the changes as well. 

“There’s a thing about farmers wanting to have a broad spectrum of products coming out of their material nowadays, which is something that I think it’s a little different to like before they were so focused on flower,” Alice said. “Now there are edibles, topicals, also different kinds of hash and I see this big trend from legal and not legal farmers of wanting to make a broad spectrum of products from what whatever it comes from their farms actually even positive for their financial standpoint also because they just have a big variety of products coming out.”

Keep an eye out for Wooksauce Winery to keep winning trophies in 2023.

This article was originally published in the July 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.

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